Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Profile of a Seasonal Worker

From the first look, he did not seem all that welcoming.  Long nails, unwashed hair, dark skin that is perhaps a bit too dark to be considered purely natural, crooked teeth...he was not the ideal guide, or for that matter, a good example of an ordinary citizen in a cosmopolitan tourist town.  Yet, somehow, as the author spent more and more time with the diminutive 27-year-old man who was his two-day guide in Siem Reap and the Temple of Angkor, his life experiences and stories became, in many ways, the most interesting portion of his trip, much more so than imposing stone temples or fantastic local food.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Communal Nature of a Filipino All-Nighter

The so-called "villa" did not look like much from the outside.  The big sign "Villa Constantino Spa & Resort" had a big red arrow pointing down to a narrow, dark dirt road seemingly leading to a rather normal bedroom community of dense, one-story family houses.  But as so many other places in the Philippines, once inside, a whole new world opened up: three large pools and a children's pool were surrounded by a series of gazebos, open-door karaoke booths, and well-decorated two story buildings full of rented bedrooms.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Is Democracy with Hierarchic, Familial Society a Real Democracy?

In the little town of Lucena two hours bus-ride south of Manila, there is a little park right on the main north-south boulevard running the length of the town.  Despite being just south of the commercial markets and malls, the park has a constantly solemn air, maintained by uniformed guards lazily watching the passers-by from their wooden rocking chairs under the big trees.  In the middle of the park is an imposing statue of Manuel L. Quezon, the first president of the Second Philippine Republic, after whom Quezon Province (for which Lucena is the capital) is named.